Tanu was drowned into her thoughts. The pelting of raindrops over the garage roof sounded akin to stones being thrown but it couldn’t garner her attention. Her eyes remained stock-still over the ornate cactus pot in the balcony. Thorns of the cacti seemed to mimic the present situational quagmire she found herself in. Her muddled mind had come to a grinding halt after the encounter with Samhita in an empty conference room of their office. Samhita’s words were still ringing in her ears.
“Why are you scared Tanu? You decide on every second of your life, every breath you take in, every choices you make. Then why are you hesitant to pour out your heart now? It is never your ability that describes you but your choices. You are an exceptionally abled person and your choices in life have made you what you are today. We didn’t design our bodies. God is the architect. Chemically, all our DNA is the same yet it’s HIS scientific and artistic acumen that makes all of us unique. Yes, you are different. Not only physically but physiologically as well. So? A difference from others doesn’t declare you to be wrong.
Most importantly, who gave these social zealots the right to decide on you and your body? Prudent doctors who proclaim to be God in disguise, failed to categorise you and tagged you as a mistake of God. You are now marketed as a mutant. As a sales personnel I see you as a lucrative brand in the world of medicine. One group of doctors gathered attention as your discoverer and the other group has geared up to gain fame by readying themselves to alter God’s creation. Do you find yourself anywhere amidst their clandestine desires? You heard it right. It is clandestine indeed.” Samhita’s words reached a crescendo.
She continued. “The brutal fact is you are a desirable experimental animal. In the operation theatre, your body will be split asunder. Doctors holding their scalpels and scissors will spend few minutes admiring the miracle before they actually separate the organs apart. That bunch of reputable doctors of the country will be accompanied by some lobbied medical interns too. Yes, lobbied interns as your body is after all a miracle. Affluence replaces intelligence. Interns will be those with some political reference or an heir of a rich and affluent family. They would stare not knowing what to do. In my opinion not only the interns but also those acclaimed surgeons do not actually know the outcome of this strenuous cutting and sewing. Be honest to yourself.
Do you face any serious difficulty in your life? I mean twenty nine years are gone. You never knew until the day you participated in the demonstration against declaration of Section 377. Isn’t it? Doctors declared something terrible with you. They predict a sooner death for you. Ludicrous! Research says each one of us stand an equal chance of having cancerous cells in our body. Absolutely true but we don’t queue up for biopsy until our body reveals some adversity isn’t it? Doctors vaunt to give you a normal life. Who decides what is normal? You didn’t even find it difficult while making love to me did you? They want to excise your body without even guaranteeing you your life. Don’t deny about the indemnity form what Dr.Chawla told you about.”
“What about those demonstrators following me wherever I go?” Tanu’s saddened eyes couldn’t resist questioning Samhita.
Samhita laughed aloud and replied, “Oh my dear! Which world are you in? Do you think they are some social servants who are dying to give their life for others? They are bloody paid demonstrators. Probably paid by the hour they spend on their soliloquy. We found them everywhere, blowing every issue out of proportion. Please don’t question their loyalty. That word doesn’t exist in their dictionary. They acknowledge only one word, Money. YOU pay them, they will jump the bandwagon. They shout at you to donate, what have they donated in their whole life? Not even a penny. They ask you to donate your body when your soul serves the needy? One old age home, one orphanage and an NGO supporting transgender rights are fed from half of your salary.
What else is called donation? If you can serve people unknown to you, YOUR body demands your service too. Don’t get carried away sweetheart. You are just hot in the market at present. Your value will fade out soon. We live in an amnesiac world. Given a chance this world will declare you abnormal for your sexual preference as well. What do you do then? Get married to any Tom-Dick-Harry just to adhere to societal norms?”
She paused, gulped some water and continued, “I am not trying to manipulate your thoughts. You could share your true feelings because we love each other. You decide dear. I shall stand by you no matter what.”
The night was stressful. Sleep was not thought deprived. The next morning was not peaceful either. Sunrays intensified in the sky so did the shouting of slogans from the self-proclaimed guardian angels of the society. However, a splash of water from the shower slowly washed away all trepidations of Tanu. As the soft bristles of the hairbrush tickled her scalp, her thoughts too were set in motion. She looked at herself in the mirror. She was more confident and unafraid. Her mind was no more mystified and was more resolute. She dressed up for office in a black pencil skirt with a white shirt tucked in, wore her stilettoes and was all set to voice out her final word, not only to her worrying parents but also to that restless baying mob outside.
“What did you decide Tanu?” Her mom’s baffled voice knocked her eardrums.
“I won’t go for any kind of surgical procedure.” Tanu declared sternly.
Tanu was a biological miracle. She had an extra heart right from her foetal stage which had imparted her with a superb metabolic rate and an advanced IQ. Many years of medical research failed to understand her condition thoroughly and doctors had left her with her exceptional qualities. She survived not only as an ‘out of the box’ human body but also as a victorious woman in this male dominating world. However, suddenly a chaos reached her. Tanu’s case got some unwarranted attention from an affluent medical team who wanted to work on her. They wished to chop out her second heart to transform her into a usual human body.
“Have a look at the placards Tanu. They are calling you selfish. You are coming on the news. Every day we get a call from some or the other channel who wants an interview with you.” Her mom spoke with a trembling voice. She was more panicked for what the society thought. She paused for a while and continued, “It’s about your future too. Who will marry you on hearing your medical history?” She uttered while wiping her not so defined tears.
Tanu slipped into her chair in the dining table and joined her father for breakfast. He looked perplexed though was not overtly expressive. Probably her carefree attitude made him so. She spoke while buttering a slice of bread.
“Next time you get a call from those sensationalizing journalists, just give them an appointment to meet me. I would be glad to inform them of my decision personally.”
Tanu’s parents looked confounded. Perhaps they were all ears to hear her speaking their mind. An upper middle class family, parent of a single daughter, intertwined in the threads of cultures-tradition-customs, prey to societal views on them, what else could one expect from her parents?
“Why don’t you agree to Dr. Chawla’s proposal?” Her father’s words sounded more like a plea.
Tanu slowed down her chewing and gulped some of the orange juice. Her eyes scanned the wall displaying all the accolades she had achieved till now. Gold medals, shields, laminated certificates and photographs showing her receiving prizes from renowned personalities. She smiled and spoke, “Remember those medals Dad? I got those for what I am. Since childhood my introduction has been bigger than my surname. I was hardly known as your child. My accolades distinguished me. I never came second in my life be it a school exam or an Olympiad or any scholarship. The credit goes to the so called anomaly of dual hearts and not to my bright brain.”
She paused as her mother interrupted. “Don’t sound philosophical. Doctors are raising doubt on your survival.”
Tanu stopped eating and responded.
“Why didn’t they raise any doubt in the past twenty nine years? I didn’t become famous overnight. I attained fame at the age of six. Everyone basked in the glory what my achievements got them. I have been going to Dr. Chawla since my childhood. Never did he talk about my survival chances that time. I fainted just once and my survival became an issue all of a sudden. A bunch of medical professionals in a famed hospital uttered some mysterious biological terms, took the liberty of advertising cutting-edge technology in medical treatments and declared me unnatural while proclaiming to cure me. I AM NOT SICK.”
“I hate monologues but it is high time I open my mind and you guys listen it out. Do you think politics is restricted to parliaments? A celebrated medical instrumentation company is waiting impatiently to showcase their newly designed instrument of preserving hearts. Every cardiologist of the country wants to be a part of ‘the miraculous heart separation surgery’. I am merely their ladder to reach fame. Death is inevitable. For everyone. But I don’t want to die bare bodied, with a slit on my chest as a result of a failed experiment of an ‘otherwise’ good doctor. They couldn’t justify the presence of two hearts in me then how can they be so sure that I will survive with one heart removed? Who knows, I may die once the hearts get separated. Nobody can predict death. If life is controlled by God so is death. I keep getting mails from the hospital demonstrating the severity of my condition. Each mail is more provocative than the previous ones. I mean seriously. Am I so important?”
She took out the printed copies of few mails from her bag and read it out loud. In one, a doctor endeavoured to influence her for the operation. A second one came from the instrumentation company decreeing the proficiency of their technique and instruments. The third one was hilarious. The hospital authorities had decided to offer her a discount. She was amazed. She was born to a central government employee. Her intellect had made her the youngest managing director in the country. She head an online shopping company with thousands of employees. She owns two houses apart from offices in all the major cities and possesses almost all the luxuries of life. She was never against the operation for monetary reasons. She was against it because she didn’t want to change herself for the sake of anybody else out there.
“But they are asking you to donate.” Her mom spoke timidly.
“Donation? What do they mean? Organs can be donated even after death. Why only heart? I will donate every part of my body. I donate blood every month. My eyes are registered in an eye bank. I donate not only to save a life but to satiate someone’s every day hunger also. They say they have a machine to preserve hearts. Then why are they in a hurry? They can’t wait because they don’t want to wait. When you create something, the first thing you do is to test its efficacy. A company invented the technique, doctors are to be educated with it and they want me to become the guinea pig. You never know, tomorrow they may ask you to donate your womb mom as it could nourish such a miraculous child.” Tanu smirked.
Her mobile rang. It was Sanjana, a reporter who had been running behind her ever since the past few weeks. Tanu picked up her call for the first time. It was perhaps unexpected for the reporter. She mumbled for few seconds and then gathered courage to ask for an interview with Tanu on the ongoing issues. Tanu asked her to wait outside the house as her decision was organised enough to be issued to the public.
She got up from the chair, hanged the handbag on her right shoulder and walked to the main door. No more hiding. No more bottled-up thoughts. No more hesitance. It was her body. Only the creator and Tanu had the right on it. A mild breeze from an opened window next to the door, bearing the fragrance of her garden’s jasmine, embraced her. She was about to open the door but a part of her stopped. Tanu’s recently uncluttered mind urged her to reveal one more truth. She took one more decision. The decision to be ingenuous towards her parents. She swivelled back, looked at her parents and uttered,
“And please stop seeking grooms for me. I AM A LESBIAN. I am not interested in MEN.”
She opened the door and smelled the virgin air while walking down the aisle, bearing a contented smile to answer the impatient mob. She felt fearless. Freed from guilt, she set herself to conquer the world all over again.
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